It had been a long day and DI Chandler was still sitting at his desk, rearranging his stationary, lining them out exactly and concentrating. It had left him restless and determined. This current case was particularly new. He flipped through the case file Buchan had handed to him earlier that day. As much as he valued Buchan's knowledge and help, Chandler wasn't convinced these murders were enactments of historical crimes. There was more in stake in this case. If they allowed this to go wrong, then everyone's living was at risk.
Chandler rubbed his temple with his ointment and breathed in deeply. He looked up and drew his breath out slowly and measured. He only just noticed DS Kent going around the desks in the office with the bin.
Kent was in no particular rush. He tidied the desks one by one with occasional glances towards the DI's office. Chandler stood up, walked around his desk slowly and opened the door. He frowned.
"Kent!" He said surprised.
He walked up to him and took the bin from him. "You don't need to do that you know." He smiled awkwardly and planting the bin back in the corner. Not forgetting to place an empty crisp packet inside from Miles' desk.
"It's fine, sir. I find that I quite enjoy it. Also, I thought if I had done it, it would save you the trouble, sir. It's been a long enough day."
"This is why you shouldn't be here, Kent." Chandler placed his hands in his pockets. "You should go home. You must have someone expecting you."
Kent shrugged and looked up to Chandler with a slight sadness in his big, brown eyes. "Not really, sir."
Chandler tilted his head. "I assumed you must have a girlfriend."
Kent sighed. "No, sir. I have Mack the goldfish. I doubt he's missing me, sir." Kent smiled his awkward smile. "I flat share with students. I never see them."
They stood in silence for a moment. Kent reached for his jacket that hanged down the back of his chair. Chandler thought for a moment and had an idea.
He stopped him.
"I was thinking, Kent."
"I can't stop this nagging feeling in my head about the case. Something isn't right. Do you mind if I discuss it with you?"
Kent let his jacket fall out of his fingers back behind the chair and nodded modestly. "Of course. Anything's better than late night TV."
Chandler entered his office once again and sat down at his immaculate desk. Kent slowly dropped in the chair opposite.
Kent watched Chandler take off his gold watch off his wrist and lay it flat down on the right of his desk and adjust himself. Kent watched him for a minute until Chandler was fully settled and relax. He had always sensed Chandler's agitating when something wasn't right.
"Would you like a coffee?" Chandler asked.
Kent raised his eyebrows at the hour. He checked the time on his own watch. 00:32. The middle of the night. But he wasn't tired, and neither looked Chandler. He accepted.
Chandler stood and prepared the coffees. "I know it's late and I want to be fresh for tomorrow's further investigation but it will keep us for the time being." Chandler passed Kent's coffee towards him, laying down a coaster first, mindfully. He did the same with his own and settled back. Fast.
"Thank you, sir." Kent said. Chandler smiled and sat up. There was a pause as Kent wondered what he had done wrong. "I just want to add, Kent that it's perfectly fine to be yourself. Drop the formalities." He smiled and sipped his coffee.
"Er, right…Chandler." He sipped his own. He settled back down and glanced at the piled files on the desk about the investigation. Two buses full of school kids had been burnt to death in two different parts of Whitechapel in the last 3 days. Kent didn't like this case at all, but as always he was driven and determined. He liked the praise he received. He felt proud of himself, which wasn't very often he felt like that. He also respected wholeheartedly the person who sent him such praises.
Chandler noticed Kent eyeing the files and grimly responded in a dull tone reflecting Kent's own worries, "I've never seen such malice like it. I mean, so many children. And I really don't know what is behind it. In the other cases there was meaning, thought, religion, revenge and power. Here, there isn't any motive."
"Yes…evil." Chandler sighed and tapped the file Buchan had handed him on the desk. "See, Ed thinks it is similar to a tram crash in the 1900s but there were no child victims. It was seen as an accident. As much as I trust Ed and his expertise I really don't think he can help in this investigation."
It was clear no love was lost between Kent and Buchan but he did feel the hopelessness Chandler felt right now. If Buchan is wrong, what now?
Kent, however, held faith in Chandler. Since his arrival into department Kent felt useful and needed. Chandler was the sort of person who could shape any grubby police officer into a decent DS. I mean, look at Miles.
"There must be a connection between the two incidents, sir- I mean Chandler. They were rival schools. Gang violence, competition, bullying. There is always a motive."
Chandler nodded. "I've looked at those possibilities and nothing has clicked. There is a missing link Kent and we have to find it. You and the team are all I can trust right now. I need you. I feel my job here is slipping through my fingers and I'm grasping at straws just to remain here." Chandler worked himself up and hastily rubbed his temples once more.
"I'm glad you see me as someone you can trust." He smiled, his eyes wide with pride.
Chandler looked at him from his near slouch over the desk and smiled long. There was a comfortable pause and Chandler opened his draw.
"I know I need to keep professional but one won't hurt. Join me?"
Kent saw Chandler had raised a bottle of whiskey from his draw and shuffled in his chair. Kent didn't drink all that much but he accepted. The coffee was making his mouth clammy and he was growing too warm.
When Chandler poured the whiskey he glanced at Kent. "Sorry about the girlfriend by the way."
"What girlfriend?" Kent looked right to left, confused and trying hard not to blush.
"I mean assuming." Chandler handed him a glass. "I never had time to know you properly have I?"
Kent sipped and swallowed the strong substance quickly. "It's fine sir. We are always busy."
Chandler chuckled. "See, that's why we need a talk."
"So you can stop calling me 'Sir.'"
Kent laughed and allowed himself to blush. "I'm sorry. It's like talking to a teacher."
"I may keep this place too tidy sometimes, that is true. But I wouldn't call myself a teacher."
"You're great." Kent had no chance to stop himself from saying it. He closed his mouth abruptly and gulped his whiskey.
"You know, 3 years ago, I thought that. I was untouchable, ambitious and cocky. Now, I find every sergeant and officer out in London great and courageous. Except all the corrupted ones obviously."
"Obviously" Kent resented all the rebellious men he had worked with. It still hurt him that Chandler once thought he was one of the corrupted.
Chandler seemed to have read his mind and sat forward, correcting himself. "Kent, when I thought you were the mole, I regret it. I regret not seeing your determination, your loyalty. Now when I think about it I must have been mad. You have been the most consistent in this force. I now I realise that. Thank you."
After all the small compliments and praises Kent received from Chandler and regarded them as high as he did, Kent was shock to have heard this from Chandler. He never thought he was strong or consistent. He saw himself as a failure, a follower, like a lapdog being told what to do and how to do it. He'd cry in the car park, he would let himself get attacked, he would try so hard to be recognised. And now that he had been, he didn't know how to respond.
Well, there was one idea.
No, he couldn't risk it. He held it for this long. And now that he was being recognised why mess it up?
"I don't know what to say…I'm grateful." Was all Kent could manage. He could have said so much more but he stopped himself.
Chandler only now saw Kent truly. He was always the youngest, the one who wanted to try hard and impress the boss. To be known and appreciated. He seemed to risk a lot. No relationship. Late nights at work.
He only now realised how similar they were.
Chandler was worried about this.
He stood up, wanting to make some sort of motion to stop the awkward silence they began.
"I'm sorry to keep you here. You need sleep. No doubt you'll try your best tomor-today!"
Kent stood up after him, wanting to protest but he couldn't allow himself.
He couldn't allow himself to share his feelings. It was pointless.
All that mattered was that Chandler had thought he mattered. It was enough for him. Chandler walked out of the office and down to Kent's desk, he folding Kent's jacket over his arm and lifted his satchel for Kent to collect. Reluctantly Kent grabbed them off him.
Kent admitted, "I don't want to leave, Chandler. I want to help. I want you to know I am always here. It doesn't matter if you don't know me outside work. When we are here all that matters is that we are a team and stick by each other. To be honest, the whole reason I do it is for you."
There he had said something. He wasn't sure if it was too much or too little. He couldn't read Chandler's face. Kent's big, brown eyes looked down to his feet.
Chandler was taken aback. He had felt hopeless tonight, in no fit way to solve two massacres. He felt desperate and weak. To receive this amount of faith and assurance was what he needed. He gained so much from Kent more than he would ever know. He had always valued Kent. But he had never rewarded it, not properly.
There was something irritating Chandler. It was Kent, but not Kent. He didn't know what it was. That itch in him, the OCD was kicking in him. He saw it, a layer of white dust in Kent's dark, curly hair. He must have help Ed in the basement archive earlier. He tried to ignore it but he couldn't.
Kent finally looked up and when he did he felt Chandler's hand brush the top of his head and felt it drag right to the base of his skull. He was confused and dazed but misguided. Chandler had shaken the dust off, but Kent grasped Chandler's neck tenderly.
Chandler pulled the hand away from his face. Kent stepped back, held back a loud sob and turned, picked his things and all but ran out of the door. Chandler was left stood dumb folded at Kent's desk, which was as neatly arranged as his own.